Santander, the Spanish owned corporation which is now completing Belize’s second sugar factory in the Cayo District, has just won the admiration and respect of the people of Belize for the way it has resolved the squatting problem created by members of the farming community of the Valley of Peace.
Members of the Valley of Peace community have been squatting on land which does not belong to them for years and have benefitted greatly from their illegal occupation.
They made a fuss when the Santander company tried to recover its land, which the company now needs for its sugarcane operation.
So what did Santander do? It set aside 160 acres of land in another part of the Cayo District, cleared and ploughed it ready for planting and donated all 160 acres to the 31 squatters who had taken over its land.
This week Santander handed over the land to the Agricultural Association of the Valley of Peace to be distributed among the 31 farmers who are to be displaced. These farmers will now each have five acres of highly desirable land to call their own.
It was a generous and enlightened gesture, which has evoked admiration and appreciation, not only from the men and women who benefitted from the arrangement, but from organizations and institutions who want to see Santander prosper in Belize in its multi-million dollar investment.
The new landowners will, of course be able to do whatever they please with their newly-acquired land. They are near enough to the new factory to plant sugarcane and reap the fruits of a guaranteed market for their crop.
Since the land is contiguous, they will be able to band together and create a cooperative venture, using economies of scale to benefit themselves and their new community.
It has brought a most harmonious ending to a nettlesome problem. We at this newspaper take off our hat to Santander.